Thursday, March 26, 2015

Homemade Pork Potstickers


My husband and I live in a fairly small Country/Western kind of town. A couple of years ago we moved from a large city with a population of 1.3 million to a charming, Norman Rockwell kind of town with a population of approx. 21,000. It was a bit of a cultural shock at first, but we have grown to love it. It is so nice to get away from the noise, traffic, and crime of the big city. That crazy homeless guy that used to camp outside our apartment building and would swear at me every time I walked past him -  I don't miss him one little bit. 

 Small town life is wonderful,  I love that we are within walking distance to grocery stores, shops, library, rec. center, restaurants, movie theatre, bowling alley and lots of quaint pubs and even a couple of saloons.






Our local saloon, of all places, makes the BEST potstickers. They serve them with a hot chili oil and they are so good they should be illegal. Anyway, one day I had a craving for pot stickers and I decided to make some at home. The only problem was I didn't have any pot sticker wrappers so I decided to improvise using homemade perogy dough.  This is a really nice dough to work with - very soft and pliable - and the potstickers came together fairly quickly. Best of all - this makes a huge batch of potstickers.


Pork Potstickers
makes 70 to 80 pot stickers

Filling:

1 cup finely grated green cabbage
1/2 cup onion, finely grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, sliced thinly
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. sugar
about 2 tsp. salt
2 lbs. ground pork
prepared dough or store bought potsticker wrappers

In a medium skillet heat 1 tbsp. vegetable oil. Add cabbage, onion and garlic and cook until cabbage is tender. 3 or 4 minutes.  Let cool. In a  large bowl, mix together, cabbage, onion, garlic, green onions, ginger, sesame oil, sugar, salt and ground pork. At this point, I take a little ball of filling and cook for 20 seconds in the microwave, just to see if it is seasoned properly. On a lightly floured surface roll out 1/4 of the dough, if using. Keep the remaining dough covered. Roll dough so that it is about 1/8" thickness. Using a round cookie cutter or a drinking glass cut out as many circles as you can fit. Scoop out one tbsp. of filling onto each cut out circle. Fold in half, pressing out any air bubbles. Take a fork and crimp around the edges.  As I am making these, I lay them out on a tray lined with parchment. Once I've finished making these, I freeze them on the trays. When frozen, put the pot stickers in a zip lock bag.

To prepare potstickers:

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add a couple of tablespoons of cooking oil to skillet. Cook pot stickers for a few minutes on each side until golden brown. Add 1/4 cup of water to pan. Cover, and lower heat. Cook for 5 -7 minutes or until cooked  all the way through. Serve with hot chili oil or sweet chili sauce.


Dough:

5 cups flour
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cups warm water

Blend oil, water, egg and salt. Add flour slowly while mixing. Knead well. Let dough rest, covered for 30 minutes.




tags: pork, appetizers, Asian, potstickers

Monday, March 9, 2015

Thai Noodle Salad with Peanut Dressing


A tangle of rice noodles and crunchy veggies tossed with a spicy peanut dressing. This is a light, refreshing salad  that would go well with grilled chicken, shrimp, or pork skewers.






I really enjoy Thai food - it is very fresh and vibrant, often spicy, perfectly balanced flavors and textures. It is the kind of food that just makes you feel good.

Research has proven that eating spicy foods can make you happy.  When you eat capsaicin (this is what makes chili peppers spicy), your brain thinks that you are in pain, which causes your body to release "feel good" endorphins. Hmmm.  Interesting.



Thai Noodle Salad with Peanut Dressing


Ingredients:

1/2 lb. rice stick noodles
1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
4 oz.  snow peas, string removed, julienned
4 oz. cucumber, julienned
3 green onions, sliced,
1 cup thinly shredded cabbage, red or green
4 oz. dry roasted peanuts, chopped



Peanut Dressing:

6 Tbsp. all natural peanut butter
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
juice and zest of 1 lime
2 Tbsp Thai red curry paste
2 tsp. pure sesame oil
2 Tbsp. Sriracha sauce, or to taste
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
small handful fresh cilantro
1/4 cup of peanut oil
about 1/4 cup water or chicken stock for thinning, if needed

Pulse all dressing ingredients in a food processor until blended. Add 1/4 cup of water or stock to thin dressing if needed.

Prepare rice stick noodles according to package direction. Rinse and drain noodles under cold water to stop cooking. With a pair of scissors cut up noodles into shorter strands. In a large bowl add noodles, carrots, snow peas, green onions, cucumber, cabbage, and peanuts. Toss with Peanut Dressing.  Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Garnish with chopped peanuts, thinly sliced green onion, and torn cilantro.




Tags: Asian, Thai, Noodles, Spicy, Salad


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs







My husband's birthday was a couple of weeks ago and I thought I would cook a special meal for him.  I made short ribs for a dinner party a couple of years ago and my husband thought that they were amazing, so this is what he requested.  Beef short ribs are a tough, relatively inexpensive cut of meat that are transformed into the most tender, melt in your mouth, crazy, out-of-this-world, delicious bites of food you will ever experience. The secret is to braise the short ribs in a flavorful broth and to simmer for hours until they are so tender you won't even need a knife. I like to cook these a day before I am planning on serving because they taste even better the next day.



Red Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs
serves 4

Ingredients:

olive oil
4 large beef short ribs
2 med carrots
2 yellow onions
2 stalks celery
4 tomatoes, peeled and seeded or one small can tomatoes
1 whole head garlic, separated and peeled
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. dry mustard powder
2 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
dry red wine, about 1/2 the bottle
2 cups beef stock
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Pulse the carrot, onion and celery in food processor until finely chopped. In a large pot, heat a little oil over medium heat. Add carrot, celery and onion. Cook until well caramelized, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, in a saute pan, heat oil over medium/high heat. Add short ribs in small batches and brown on all sides. Deglaze saute pan with a bit of wine. Add short ribs to pot. Add remaining ingredients, including the wine that was used to deglaze the saute pan.  Add just enough wine  to almost cover short ribs. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours or until very tender. Let cool and refrigerate overnight. The next day, skim off any fat that has risen to the top. Remove bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Heat over low heat until ribs are thoroughly heated.  Puree sauce if desired. I served this with brown butter mashed potatoes and glazed carrots.




Tags: Beef, Short Ribs, Wine,